Cover: Exploring Park Director Roles in Promoting Community Physical Activity

Exploring Park Director Roles in Promoting Community Physical Activity

Published in: Journal of Physical Activity & Health, v. 9, no. 5, July 2012, p. 731-738

by Terry Marsh, Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Deborah Cohen

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

This study was published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The full text of the study can be found at the link above.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Parks provide numerous opportunities for physical activity (PA). Previous studies have evaluated parks' physical features, but few have assessed how park staff influence PA. METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews with 49 park directors, focusing on perceptions of their role, park programs, marketing and outreach, external collaborations, and PA promotion. Directors also completed a questionnaire providing demographics, education and training, and other personal characteristics. RESULTS: Park directors' descriptions of their roles varied widely, from primarily administrative to emphasizing community interaction, though most (70% to 80%) reported offering programs and community interaction as primary. Including PA in current programs and adding PA-specific programs were the most commonly reported ways of increasing PA. Also noted were facility and staffing improvements, and conducting citywide marketing. Many directors felt inadequately trained in marketing. Most parks reported community collaborations, but they appeared fairly superficial. An increasing administrative burden and bureaucracy were recurring themes throughout the interviews. CONCLUSIONS: Staff training in marketing and operation of PA programs is needed. Partnerships with health departments and organizations can help facilitate the PA promotion potential of parks. As there are competing views of how parks should be managed, standardized benchmarks to evaluate efficiency may help to optimize usage and PA promotion.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.